The temporary planning application notice has gone up on a lampost and has to be displayed for four weeks, we have three more to go. Then the Council Planning Department decide whether its better to have a fly-tipped wasteland or a community fruit and vegetable garden. In the meantime another Council department are coming along tomorrow to clear the rubbish from site in preparation for the garden. Let’s get this party started!
It’s a peculiar challenge, designing a garden around the shape and size of a builders pallet, (100 x 120cm if you really want to know). These ubiquitous items, found discarded out the back of shops and building sites everywhere, will be the bedrock of our moveable garden, providing the means of moving the plant containers placed on top of them when the site is eventually handed back for development. Putting pen to paper has really helped to turn our ideas into a possible reality – and thrown up some critical questions. How much growing space is needed? How will the space be shared between different users? (a free for all approach like Incredible Edible Todmorden or designated community allotments for specific groups to use?). What about wheelchair access and where should the all important shed go? We’re not in the business of designing a set piece show garden here – we want the garden to evolve organically into a form that follows its function. But we need to start somewhere. So biting the proverbial bullet, I have sketched out a plan and here it is. Thoughts, comments and ideas would be most welcome.
What a great week! We featured in the Hastings Observer – read all about it…..
http://bit.ly/Jj1Dyq and everyone’s talking about the garden.
We’ve also had some very generous offers of help from local businesses. Stamco the timber people are giving us all the pallets and builders sacks we need and best of all they are delivering to the site. Love those guys!
Ashley from Tate Fencing came down to meet us to see what could be done about the boundary fence and gates – fingers are crossed that they might have some pre-loved gates for us and we fell in love with his idea of a picket fence. That would really spell out the Community Garden message to anyone considering a bit more fly-tipping.
We may also have compost coming our way from a local contractor and Hastings & Bexhill Wood Recycling are going to make us some benches.
Posters have gone up, leaflets popped through letter boxes.
Closer to home I’m rather proud of my cobbled together cold frame and hope that the seedlings will understand that they’ve gone out there to hardened off not killed off! Their vacant spaces on the window ledges have already been taken by new sowings, so there’s no coming back in.
We are making progress in many ways behind the scenes and now have a site clearance date. The garden plan will feature in the local paper on Friday with contact details for people who want to get involved. The response has been 100% positive so far and its exciting to think of people reading about the idea for the first time.
I have become a real scavenger and hardly ever return home without a new crate or compost bag. Yesterday I picked up three large polystyrene fish boxes from Rock a Nore. These are perfect for vegetable growing as they’re lightweight and very insulating.
It will be like moving the baby from a cot and to be tucked into bed when I transplant the seedlings. Much as I will them to grow faster the cold snap has slowed things down in the nursery.
We are on such a steep learning curve and now have spreadsheets about several different aspects of the Moveable Feast. We also know the cost of four water butts. It does seem that rain has come back as a bit feature in our lives since the day the hosepipe ban was enforced. Fortunately we have four tall buildings with downpipes at the ready, it’s a shame the water butts haven’t been installed there yet because we are missing all this lovely rain. In the meantime we all continue to grow our portable gardens at home to be moved to Western Road in June
Patience is a virtue but Spring is a time when nature seems to want us to join in and get active. Difficult as it is for us to bide our time and wait for planning permission and rubbish clearance, there is much to do before we can get out in the sunshine and start laying out the garden, organising helpers and planting out. With this in mind I went along to our local Gardeners Question Time at Stade Hall on Friday night and put in a couple of practical questions about container growing and how to cope with the impending drought.
I’m so pleased I did because I now know that the large containers can be part-filled with broken up polystyrene fish boxes before the compost is added. It makes containers much lighter, aerates and insulates the soil and roots gain strength from finding their way around lumpy objects. And we can get the boxes free from the fish traders on the Stade.
On the drought front I discovered what I already knew – most vegetables have a high water content and that water has to come from somewhere. Our soil will need plenty of organic matter to absorb and hold onto moisture and a good layer of mulch on the top to counteract evaporation. Watering is going to a challenge and water butts are high on the list of things we need to get hold of and in place right away.
Theory is important but yesterday I needed to counterbalance it with a bit of dirt under the fingernails, so I potted up the runners from my strawberry plants. I’ll be doing the same with three types of mint and hope to encourage everyone who has a garden to sow and grow as much as they can at home this month.